Easter Sunday Attacks: Mystery deepens, no action taken against Namal Kumara

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Many questions yet remain unanswered with regard to the Easter Sunday attacks of April 2019. While the dependents of those who were killed in the dastardly attacks await answers to such questions, there is no indication whatsoever that the gaps in the investigations revealed so far are being pursued.

Additionally the growing distrust among the people with regard to the institutional decay that has set in with regard to the law enforcement machinery has given rising to much speculation about the reasons of the Easter Sunday attacks. Increasing political interference too has contributed to the weakening of such institutions and has greatly contributed to the growing cynicism with regard to official pronouncements with regard to such investigations.  

One such gap in the investigation is the role of Namal Kumara a few months before the Easter Sunday attacks. He suddenly came into the limelight with the allegation that Deputy Inspector General Nalaka Silva who was the Head of the Terrorist Investigation Division was involved in a plot to kill President Maithripala Sirisena and former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Calling himself as the Secretary of the Anti Corruption Front, which to all intents and purposes was a non existent body, Namal Kumara received a great deal of publicity from the media. Eventually DIG Nalaka Silva was arrested and detained on October 18, 2018.

Subsequent evidence showed that DIG Nalaka Silva had obtained a warrant against Zahran Hashim and was hot on the heels of the would be suicide bomber at the time of his arrest. As a result of his incarceration the heat was off Zahran Hashim who together with several others blew themselves up on that fateful day killing and maiming so many.

Last week Colombo Fort Magistrate Thilina Gamage discharged DIG Nalaka Silva from proceedings in court. The Magistrate made the order based on the Attorney General’s instructions to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to release Nalaka Silva due to lack of evidence to proceed against him.

On September 20, 2021 the then Public Security Minister Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera informed Parliament that further investigations were being carried out into DIG Nalaka Silva upon Namal Kumara’s complaint with regard to an alleged plot to assassinate the then President Maithripala Sirisena and former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The Minister was responding to a question raised by Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Parliamentarian Nalin Bandara Jayamaha on the progress of the investigations into the incident.

The Minister also said Nalaka Silva had been released on bail on May 21, 2019.

Several questions arise with regard to the circumstances surrounding the arrest of DIG Nalaka Silva. If there was even prima facie evidence of the truth of Namal Kumara’s allegation, DIG Nalaka Silva would not have been released on bail eight months after his arrest. It is standard practice for the Attorney General or the Police to object to bail on the basis that investigations are continuing and that there is the possibility that the suspect may interfere with the investigations.

In this instance DIG Nalaka Silva being a senior Police Officer it would have been natural to fear that he could interfere with the investigations. The fact that bail was granted to him so soon after the April 2019 attacks naturally gives rise to the suspicion that the evidence, if any, that had been unearthed did not require him to be kept in custody.

The fact that the Attorney General had informed the CID that there was no evidence against DIG Nalaka Silva five years after his arrest further strengthens the suspicion that Namal Kumara’s allegation and the Police Officer’s subsequent arrest may have been for the collateral purpose of keeping Zahran free from arrest.

All the evidence in the public domain shows that there have been wheels within wheels that have facilitated the incident relating to the Easter Sunday attacks. The arrest of DIG Nalaka Silva may have been one such example. The fact that a non entity like Namal Kumara could have made a sensational allegation that derailed Police investigations into Zahran and his colleagues is further evidence of such a perception. If investigations showed that there was no evidence against DIG Nalaka Silva one would have expected the Police to conduct investigations against Namal Kumara to ascertain how he came up with such a serious allegation. But why this has not happened is also a mystery.

All the evidence in the public domain shows that the Easter attacks took place not due to any intelligence failure but due to the failure of the security apparatus. There was enough information with regard to the impending attacks both locally and from neighbouring India but the attacks happened.

The DIG Nalaka Silva saga seems to be a part of the larger scheme of things. It is such gaps in the investigation that prompt the people to speculate on why such a horrific incident was not prevented. (javidyusuf@gmail.com)